Tell Your Story for Loving Day!

In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving got married. They were arrested a few weeks later in Richmond, Virginia because she was black and he was white. And interracial marriage was illegal.

They pleaded guilty to the charge and skipped out on jail by agreeing to leave the state. But their work was not done.

The Lovings began to fight their case. And in 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Loving v Virginia, decided in favor of interracial couples. In fact, the ruling struck down all remaining anti-miscegenation laws (laws forbidding intimate relationships across race) in sixteen U.S. states.

Sometimes I reflect on this history, recognizing that forty years later, in 2007, I would marry my love. It's hard to believe our relationship would have ever been illegal based on our race and ethnicity.

Loving Day celebrates this victory in the Supreme Court on June 12, the anniversary of the verdict. I thought it'd be fun to remember the day on the blog by creating a post highlighting beautiful cross-cultural relationships.

Will you share your photo and a brief introduction?   

You can fill out the form below. There's a spot to attach a photo. And if you'd like to include additional responses, I always have more questions. Feel free to share a little about your interracial-cross-cultural marriage life.

I'll put together the responses and together we will toast the Lovings on June 12!

UPDATE: The form has been closed. You can read the collected stories here.

A Few of My Favorite Things {May 2015}

I'm proud to report that it's the end of May, and I'm still drinking water like it's my job. Friends are openly mocking me. Everything is right in the world. Here are a few more highlights from the month:


I started out the month with a quick trip to Philly. I'd actually been there twice before, but always in a very rushed/work-related capacity. This time, I was visiting a sweet friend who just had her first baby. She actually lived with Billy and me when we gave birth to our first baby, so it was super fun to be together with a newborn again.

Also... pretzels. I ate some bizarrely good food while I was there. Philadelphia delicacies seem to include: a convenience store called Wawa, water ice (yum!), and big, soft pretzels that I can't get over and still think about late at night.

The Passing of a Legacy

We said good-bye to our car this month. It was surprisingly emotional for both Billy and me. I wrote before how buying it was a memorable moment in our early days of marriage. And though maybe it wasn't all a good memory (ha!), it was a marker of our shaky footsteps in "coming together" and a reminder of how far we've come.

But never fear, the 21st century is here. We replaced our dying legacy with a Nissan Leaf. So now an extension cord snakes across our front porch and into the driveway to plug in our car. What? No more gas stations for this one! Also, I convinced Billy to make this foolish video with me because I apparently have way too much free time.

My Mother-In-Law Comes to Town

Our big excitement in May was the long-awaited visit from my mother-in-law. It was such a joy to have her here to visit, and we packed the two weeks full of all the things family and tourist. In Atlanta, we took her to Centennial Park, the zoo, the Georgia Aquarium, and Stone Mountain.

We also rented a van for an epic, inter-generational road trip to Kentucky to visit my family. There, we ate a lot, played on playgrounds, rode ponies, and celebrated Billy's birthday. Billy rocked a lot of translation during the trip, and I shared my favorite bilingual moments from her visit in this month's newsletter. All in all, it was a phenomenal couple of weeks, and we were grateful that it was finally able to happen.


My favorite thing about the month of May? Swimming pools open! Memorial Day weekend our kids swam three days in a row. Nothing makes those two toddler-people sleep better than swimming.

Also, this year I got myself what can only be described as a waterproof hip belt because I'm so cool like that. However, I gotta say, when my wet, sandy-handed kids were pilfering through my bag, I was glad my phone and wallet were in my little plastic purse-ette.

The Good Shufu

Full disclaimer: I have yet to read this book. Because it's not out yet. But I pre-ordered it, and I thought some of you might be interested in it as well. I rarely see books about cross-cultural relationships, so I'm pretty excited to see about this one.

I'm always intrigued by how much I can relate to couples of completely different cultures if they are still navigating two different ones. There's something about that learning process that is universal, even if the specifics of the differences are completely unique.

All the Links

Here's a few favorite links I shared this month:

The Fascinating Story Behind Why So Many Nail Technicians Are Vietnamese - very interesting backstory behind one woman's attempt to offer opportunity.

These Ex-Gang Members Are Baking Their Way to Redemption - I am such a fan of Homeboy Industries and the work of Father Boyle in L.A. It is truly creative and compassionate.

What You Don't Know About Immigration - Bronwyn's immigration experience is eye-opening and helps to paint a fuller picture of our broken systems.

And here are a few posts on A Life with Subtitles that readers enjoyed:

An American Girl's Guide to Kissing - because the struggle is real. ;)

12 GIFs Only People At A Bilingual Church Will Understand - things like trying to guess which language to speak to someone in.

The Marital Nightmare I Wouldn't Wish On My Worst Enemy - decision-making is not for the faint of heart!

What have you been up to this May? As always, I'm linking up with the wonderful folks over at Leigh Kramer.

An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

Greeting with a kiss is a common cultural practice around the world. But how do you kiss on the cheek without being completely awkward? Here's the "official" American Girl's Guide to Kissing on A Life with Subtitles

Kissing. It's a relatively simple aspect of Latino cultures. When you say hello or good-bye, it's customary to include a quick peck on the cheek.

Naturally, this practice sends me into a spiral of what ifs, internal dialogues, and a general state of panic. Billy is constantly shaking his head at my ridiculousness. But the struggle is real, and I've put together a short list of the kisses I've experienced in my quest to not be awkward.

The Air Kiss: a cheek kiss like throwing love to the wind. || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

This is probably the one I execute most often. Cheek-to-cheek, the other person may kiss me or not, but I am smacking into the air near their ear so they know I tried. But no kiss ever actually occurred. I find this to be the least awkward physically, but I typically walk away feeling like I did something wrong.

The Smoosh Kiss: a cheek kiss like the opposite of "Chubby Bunny." || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

The Smoosh Face includes full-on simultaneous cheek kissing from both parties. In my mind, this is what is "supposed" to happen, but it's challenging to perfect. You gotta really move those lips sideways to keep your own cheek available for kissing, while also kissing them at a parallel angle. Get carried away, and this one can easily turn into a kiss on the lips, which is what always happens when my 4-year old and I try to kiss good-night.

Follow the Leader: It's polite to wait for a cheek kiss, right? || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk

You kiss me. Then I'll kiss you. To me, this one makes the most sense, but it's risky. It requires a little bit of extra time and organization. There's always the real possibility the other person will pull away after they kiss me. Then, I'm left standing like a prima dona, all, "Yes, I'm currently accepting kisses."

The Hair Stroke: more than a cheek kiss it's a commitment. || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

Hands down, my least favorite kiss. Mainly because it involves arms wrapped around my head and hair rubbing. My personal-space-o-meter just shattered!

Billy says I am the only one who makes this exchange awkward, but I say that's because he doesn't kiss the preteen boys. Preteen boys are my kissing nemesis. There's that moment, after their parents have kissed me, that we are looking at each other. I'm used to letting others take the lead on the lip smacking, but these boys are shifting back-and-forth in similar uncertainty to my own. They are bicultural enough to know this situation is not in my swing zone, and they're kinda okay to let it slide, but everyone around us is still kissing, and peer pressure is real.

That's when I hear a voice in my head say, "Sarah, you are the grown up. Make this happen in the least awkward way possible. The faster the better." And that's how I end up over-aggressively kissing teenage boys.

The Over Eager: sometimes a cheek kiss is just too intense. || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

This kiss happens when you get too much into the greeting groove. You are passing that peace and lip gloss like a boss when you suddenly realize you just kissed someone unnecessarily. Maybe you've already greeted each other, maybe they were talking to someone else and you kind "surprise kissed" them, whatever. It happens.

The Pull Back: sometimes you start a cheek kiss and realize you're wrong. || An American Girl's Guide to Kissing

This is my favorite face palm. This is what happens to me when I hang out with non-Latinos soon after being in a group of Latinos. It's the kissing equivalent of trying to give someone a high five and then using that raised hand to smooth your hair once you realize that's not going to happen. Although, it's a little harder to play it cool when you've accidentally gotten too close to someone's cheek for no apparent reason...

So there you go. Seven examples of kissing. I'm sure Billy will be all, "What on earth?!" But can you feel me? Are there examples that I've missed?

The Exhaustion of Being Bilingual

When Billy and I were dating, we lived about an hour apart. Similar to many ooey-gooey couples, we spent a lot of time on the phone. A LOT.

If you've ever tried learning another language, you know that speaking your second language on the phone is infinitely harder than in person. (Whenever the phone rang when we lived in Argentina, I would basically scream and hide... so it wouldn't know I was there...)

Billy later told me how tiring those phone marathons were for him. He almost always collapsed into sleep seconds after hanging up.

These days, English is not really an issue for him, but heavily bilingual environments can still be exhausting for us all. The first day my mother-in-law arrived, she was talking to him in one ear in Spanish, and I was talking to him in the other in English.

The fact that he was maintaining both conversations is a pretty good indication of his bilingual superpowers. There was only one moment when he looked at me in the eyes and started talking right to me in Spanish. I was all, "Umm.. do you hear what you're saying to me right now?"

But I was super impressed with my mother-in-law because I know first-hand how tiring it can be to stay in a home of your second language. In fact, I've often thought, I bet my in-laws think I'm a very slug-like person because I'm always tired with a glazed over look. But it's only (well, mostly) because the little hamster in my brain is running so fast, trying to follow conversations and think of responses.

I assume that one day (if I ever become more fluent in Spanish) some of the exhaustion will dissipate like it did for Billy. Is that true? Do you share this bilingual exhaustion? 

Image credit: Umberto Salvagnin - And, oh my word, am I into cat photos now? 

What Evangelicals Think About Immigration: The Good, The Bad, and The Cray-Cray

This week I tuned into a webinar hosted by the Evangelical Immigration Table, a coalition of evangelical organizations and leaders advocating for immigration reform consistent with biblical values. The focus of the webinar was a report recently released by LifeWay Research. (What up, Beth?)

Basically, the researchers polled American adults who consider themselves to be evangelical, born-again, or fundamentalist Christians. They used quotas to make sure the sample was balanced regarding gender, ethnicity, age, region, and education. And then they asked them questions about immigration.

The Good

Let's jump right into the positives! I was pleasantly surprised to read that more than half of Evangelicals believe immigration reform should establish a path towards citizenship. Actually, I say surprised. I was more like shocked.

I would never have guessed so many folks would support a pathway to citizenship. In fact, when asked if they would support immigration reform that included both increased border security and provided a legalization process for immigrants in the US unlawfully, almost 7 out of 10 Evangelicals said they would support these combined reforms. 

Taking it even one step further, half of respondents said they would be more likely to support a candidate supporting these changes. Since the survey accounted for demographics, it's interesting to note that these responses were more likely to come from women, people in the Northeast, respondents age 18-34, and Hispanic or African American Evangelicals.

Finally, almost 70% of Evangelicals think it's important that Congress pass significant new immigration reform. I was encouraged by this stat (even though later data may indicate we don't totally agree on what that should be), and I hope elected officials will take note. They do not seem to think it's important at all.

The Bad

One article said it this way: 9 in 10 Evangelicals say Bible doesn't influence immigration views. Yeah, that's not great.

Influences that trumped the Bible included: immigrants you've interacted with, friends and family, and the media. Regarding the media, those age 65+ were statistically more likely to select it than those age 18-34. The 65+ group was also most likely to say recent immigrant are a threat to law and order, a threat to the safety of citizens, a drain on on economic resources, and a threat to traditional American customs and culture. So I think it's safe to say Glenn Beck is knocking it out of the park.

However, lest I paint the senior population in too harsh a light, those 65+ were also most likely to say its important Congress pass immigration reform. In addition, they were more likely to respond that they would support combined legislation that enforces border security and offers a pathway to citizenship and that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports such legislation.

But about the Bible. Only 21% of respondents said they have ever been encouraged by their church to reach out to immigrants. However, almost 7 in 10 Evangelicals said they would value a sermon on how biblical principles can be applied to immigration.

Surprisingly, even with the church never discussing the topic, more than half of Evangelicals say they are familiar with what the Bible says about how immigrants should be treated. The researcher said that this may be due to the "halo effect," where survey respondents don't want to "look bad," so they overstate their own knowledge on a topic. Or maybe, like me, they listened to a lot of Third Day. Whenever, I think of aliens, widows, and orphans, I think of Third Day.

The Cray-Cray

I think the hardest number for me to wrap my mind around was that 8 our 10 Evangelicals believe immigration reform should respect people's God-given dignity. I mean, I guess that's a high number, but who are these Christians who think we shouldn't treat people with basic respect and dignity?! Even more, only 7 out of 10 think immigration reform should protect the unity of the immediate family.    

The researcher made a comment about how polls reveal that about 7% of people believe the first moon landing was a hoax. He suggested there is a always a percentage of respondents who will simple not agree with whatever is being asked.

Okay. But you know where those fake moon walking people got on board? Immigration reform that respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, and ensures fairness to taxpayers. 9 out of 10 Evangelicals support those criteria. I'm not saying those are necessarily bad, I am just saddened that Christians would value rules, security, and money more than people and families.

Resources For You

Overall, what stands out to me from this study, is that Evangelicals recognize that something needs to change regarding our immigration laws. And there is significant support for legislation that addresses current immigrants living unlawfully in the States beyond a simple "kick them out" mentality.

If you want to read LifeWay's full report, you can find it here. If you've like to watch the Evangelical Immigration Table's webinar on the data, the recording is available here. Finally, check out the EIT's resources for pastors and churches. They really offer some great videos, sermon guides, Scripture reading plans, and more that can help your church address the topic of immigration.

Which of these stats stand out for you? How does the data compare to your personal experience with Evangelicals on this topic?  

5 Family-Friendly Spanish Movies on Netflix

The summer is nearly upon us, and the TV is always with us. I mean... oh, never mind. Yep. We love a family movie night!

With my mother-in-law in town, I've been reminded how difficult it is to search for Spanish-language programs on Netflix. So I've compiled a follow-up list to my holiday edition of Spanish kid movies. Here are 5 family-friendly movies you can watch in Spanish on Netflix.

101 Dalmatians

Oh, those adorable puppies! This is probably the first one I'm going to convince Gabriella that we should watch.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

We tried to watch the first one because we heard there was a Guatemalan character, but a power outage thwarted our efforts. We'll have to try the sequel!

The Smurfs 2

If you are allowed to watch the Smurfs, then you can watch them in Spanish. Ha! Apparently, sequels are big in Spanish, though.

The Great Mouse Detective

Seriously. A crime-fighting mouse? Who could ask for more?


The caption reads, "delinquents are forced to dig holes every day as a character-building exercise. But what's the real reason for the digging?" Well, now I have to know.

If you need a quick refresher on how to change the audio on these movies, it is a little different on each device. First, though, you have to select the movie that you want to see. You cannot change audio on your profile or device in general. It's done inside each, specific program.

Then, you look for the menu called "Audio & Subtitles." It's there that you can make the switch and get started!
Can you get your kids to watch movies in Spanish? What are some of your go-to flicks?

Give Me Chickens Or Give Me Death

I knew having my mother-in-law visit was going to offer some fantastic blogging material. My first clue? This text from my sister:

She has never met my mother-in-law before, and she wanted to let me know she was brushing up on her Spanish. Because apparently we will be talking about chickens. I'm still unsure if they'll be dead or alive.

However, I mentioned this conversation to a friend, and she told me she learned this vocabulary the hard way on her Spanish husband's uncle's farm. Everyone burst into laughter when she referred to the (live) chickens as "pollo."

This was my response:

So then I was talking to Billy about my Spanglish mix-up. (Are you keeping track? This is now my third conversation about how to discuss deceased farm animals with my mother-in-law! What on earth?!)

He assured me that in Spanish Spanish (you know... from Spain) is different than Guatemalan Spanish, where pollo is used for both. Whew! We can all rest assured that however we want to talk about chickens during this visit, we are good to go!
Alright. Feel free to weigh in: How did you learn to say "chicken" in Spanish? Do you have other words that are tricky like this?

The Mother's Day We Never Thought We'd See

After eight years... after countless tears... after missing our wedding and the births of our children, my mother-in-law flew into Atlanta on Mother's Day. It's been a long time coming, and it was a special joy to greet her at the airport and welcome her to our home.

In March, my in-laws applied again for their visas to come visit us. We'd taken a break for several years, but one of Billy's goals after he became a citizen, was to try again.

So this time we tried a process where four U.S. citizens (3 by birth and 1 naturalized) requested that my suegros be granted a visa to visit us. My mother-in-law was approved, and my father-in-law was denied.

This bittersweet success has been met with the kind of frustrated sorrow and unbridled joy you might expect from a split verdict. Of course everyone wonders why. That will be a question for the ages, I suppose.

My father-in-law will likely not apply again. Three denials without clear explanation or any path to change the result? Yeah, I think we're done.

What annoys me the most? His best option is actually to become a Legal Permanent Resident of the U.S. You know... except he doesn't want to be a resident of this country. He doesn't want to live here. He just wants to visit his grandkids.

But his children can choose to apply for him to be issued a green card, and his odds are pretty favorable that it will be approved. Of course, then we run into issues like the expense and the fact that he cannot be outside of the U.S. for more than six months without government approval. Because... you know, technically he would "live" here.

And so our inadequate and broken immigration system keeps on turning. I tell these stories because I continue to hope that we can do better. And I pray for reform. Because our family's minor inconveniences are only part of a bigger pattern of illogical systems that divide families and often don't make sense for what's best for the country.

But while our hearts still hurt, we will also celebrate this Mother's Day with my mother-in-law. It is truly a gift we never really let our hearts hope for. And I can only hope that I will make her first visit to my home as awkward as I made my first visit to her home.

The Marital Nightmare I Wouldn't Wish On My Worst Enemy

About six minutes after we got married, Billy was in a car accident. Someone rear-ended him on the freeway. He was fine, and he made sure the other driver was okay. Then, since he was undocumented, he left before the police arrived.

Unfortunately for us, the car was totaled. The accident hadn't been Billy's fault, but our status left us little options to pursue restitution. Then, because it was LA, we were up a creek without a car. And we both pretty much needed a car.

Now, decision making is not my forte. I am hopelessly dramatic. I need lots of outside input. I need swaths of time to contemplate. All in all, my method for decision-making is pretty practical and fun for all involved.

Billy... not so much. He makes a decision in three minutes flat and never looks back. As you can imagine, buying a car in our second month of marriage was basically a dream date.

I'm not joking when I say I wouldn't wish this on any newlywed couple. At least for us, it was so unbelievably challenging. We were still working out how to share money and that was.... happening. We were still figuring out how to communicate and disagree. It is almost comical in my memory because we were both trying so hard to be "nice," but we were coming at this from very different directions.

In fact, I recently posted this graphic of cultural differences on my Facebook page, and the mention of "approaches to decision-making" took me right back to the car dealership.

I recognize that some of our decision making strategies are probably more personality than culture, but we did have an interesting conversation about "researching." Researching gets a reputation as being kind of a "white person" thing to do.

We get pregnant, we buy books. We want to change careers, we take aptitude tests. We get sick, we start Googling without supervision. Of course, these are broad strokes and don't apply to every white person in every situation, but there does tend to be an appreciation for some pro/con lists in my background.

We were chatting (read: dramatically retelling this experience) with our Guatemalan pastor during a small group for newlyweds. I will never forget him laughing and telling Billy that yes, in the States we do a lot of research. "But you'll start to like it," he said. "In a few years, you'll be like 'Que bonito Consumer Reports!'"

I'm sad to say that the car we bought that day on the second month of our marriage has passed away. We are now in the process of car buying all over again. I'm finding myself very sentimental over that crazy car that I thought was a terrible decision at the time. Since it lasted us over seven years, I'll have to take the loss on that one.

I've asked Billy if we can just hang onto it and leave it parked in the driveway or side yard. That got me a big, fat "no." Ha!

It's fascinating to me, though, how car buying opens up a little window into how much our marriage has grown and changed. Billy simply knows we're not going to decide to buy a car, head to a dealership, and come home with one. He has agreed to sharing a Google doc spreadsheet.

And I have learned I need to be more focused and incredibly grateful for the time and energy he's putting into the process. And at some point, I have to pull the trigger.

We have both admitted that buying cars is something we both really hate. And if we're honest, it's probably something we like even less since we do it together.

It's not even a lie to say during this decision process, we have both at some point said, "Let's just leave the country." After all, we love public transportation, and Buenos Aires makes a car completely unnecessary.

We'd love to live without a car. That's a decision we can both agree on!
How do you make decisions? Do you do a lot of research? Do you and your spouse approach decisions similarly?     

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7 Words My Kids Know Only in Spanish

One of the delights of raising bilingual kids is watching them create, adapt, and navigate their growing vocabulary. I have recently been amused, noticing the Spanish words that have "stuck," even though English is definitely the go-to language at home. Here's a few favorites:


It was both kids' first Spanish word, I believe, and it hangs around. I read or heard somewhere that it's common for bilingual (Spanish/English) kids to say agua early because it's easier than "water." Isaac, in fact, also calls milk agua, which is super awesome when he asks for agua, then throws a cup of water and screams in discontent. Gabriella switches back and forth on this one these days, but I still hear her say agua more frequently than most other Spanish words she knows.


Gabriella has a clothes hamper that is a lion. We have called it leóncito since Day One, and we all still do. We almost never say the word lion. Apparently, we do big cats in Spanish only.


Coco literally translates "coconut." And while we love coconuts, we use the word coco primarily to refer to one's head. As in, "Cuidado con tu coco!" or "Careful with your coconut!" meaning "Watch your head!" The other day, Gabriella told me, "Coco means noggin." Well, there you go.


Gabriella's first true love: the pacifier. And since we introduced it to Isaac at 18 months (really? what were we thinking?), his obsession has grown to epic proportions. He wanders the house, arms outstretched, hands up, asking "Pepe? Pepe?" Billy told me after I said no to him one day, Isaac got close to Billy's ear, nudged him, and whispered, "Pepe?"


The only time we get pepe is when it's time to go mimi, which translates to "night night." This is a phrase that my kids definitely use regularly, and we do not switch back and forth. Bedtime is simply "mimi time."


I don't know how to spell this one, and Google is no help, so I went phonetic. It basically translates to pee-yew or pew-wee (depending on how you say that one). In short, stinky! Given how many diapers we've changed in the last four and a half years, this word is a common Spanish one in our casa.


You might remember all my drama about what Gabriella was going to call Billy. Well, Papi has gone the distance. Isaac now calls him this as well and never uses the words "da-da" or "daddy." Gabriella, can code switch, and sometimes I hear her refer to him as her dad when it relates to picking her up at preschool, etc. But at home, he's always Papi.

These are the seven words we rarely translate. There are others that we go back and forth (my favorite is popcorn... or poporopo!), but these are pretty solid Spanish standbys in our Spanglish household.
What words do your kids never translate from their second language?

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